The more you know your neighbors, the better off you may be when disaster strikes, suggests a study from the University of Arizona, Tucson. Researchers in the School of Anthropology examined social networks in the late pre-Hispanic Southwest and found that communities that were more connected with their neighbors had a better chance of being able to manage a crisis successfully than did communities with fewer outside connections. It is a finding that could have implications for crisis management research today.
"In a lot of modern research in crisis management, people are looking at how communities mobilize along social networks to overcome traumatic environmental crises, like we saw with Hurricane Katrina," says Lewis Borck, lead author of the study and a Ph.D. candidate in the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences.
"We've known for a long time that people rely on social networks during times of crisis. What we didn't know, or at least what we haven't really been able to demonstrate, is exactly what happened to the social networks at a regional scale as people began to rely on them, or how people modified and changed their networks in reaction to social and environmental crises. This research gives us insight into that."
Borck and his study coauthors, including professor of anthropology Barbara Mills, focused specifically on the period of A.D. 1200-1400...